The Dog Days of August is Budget Season in Media Sales

Aug 21, 2013 4:47:04 PM / by Chris Crawford

Dog days of August is budget season for media sales Don't let the dog days of summer or a budget request get you down. Your media sales CRM will help you come up with reliable numbers.
Boy, dog and woman enjoying each other's company, Tallahassee, Florida. State Library and Archives of Florida.

It is hard to believe: the dog days of summer are here. This usually means the advent of dry hot days, and your manager telling you it is time to start thinking about next year’s BUDGETS. That just can’t be! We are only 8 months into the year! How in the world can sales management be serious? You want me to project numbers for next year when only two thirds of this year’s billing is actually in the books? Yep, that’s exactly what they mean. 

Actually, you should feel fortunate that your sales manager is asking for your input instead of waiting until a one-on-one in December to present you with your number for the coming year. At least this way you have some input, so take it seriously. Trust me; most sales managers are lamenting the same request from corporate. Your managers are counting on you for visibility on your book of business so their own budget projections will be more accurate.

What makes this exercise even more treacherous is that you are actually budgeting based on a projection for fourth quarter of this year. So, your budgets from last year had better be on point, or certainly your re-projections for fourth quarter this year need to be. It’s a scary situation if you are not prepared.

Most corporate radio stations need visibility on closing out the year and beginning to budget for the coming year. That is the only way they can run the business. In fact, it is the only way YOU can run YOUR business. YOU have to be good at understanding and identifying where your revenues will be coming from as a way to understand if you can put enough in your bank account to pay your bills. This is no different from what your corporate bosses need to do. So you should be able to relate. Makes the task a little easier to grasp now when you look at it like that, doesn’t it?

So, the 64 million dollar question is: how do we accomplish this process with any accuracy and reliability? Here are five ways to increase your accuracy while budgeting for the upcoming year:

  1. Do a bottoms-up budget by account. If you have a quality CRM you most likely have a built-in process to accomplish this by month and then by year. You would need to look not only at spot, but non-spot revenues, such as digital/web, NTR, and talent fees, if included in your budgets.
  2. Examine your revenue flows by month and historical data from previous years to identify trends in spending by client. If you have engaged your CRM as a matter of daily business all year, you will have easy access to this data. This information will allow you to overlay your activities and tasks for the next year and ensure that you are in communication with that client in advance to make sure you know when budgets will be released during the year.
  3. Start your budget process by protecting revenues and planning for growth for Key accounts. If you use strategic account management as part of your sales process, you certainly want to make sure you identify these trends with your most important clients, or Key accounts, as we call them at Efficio. Key accounts are the top accounts on your list that usually generate 75% of your account list revenues. Simply put, these are your BEST accounts. Make sure you have identified marketing challenges for these top accounts and that you are comfortable answering when and why they would continue to invest with your station.
  4. Once you have finished with your Keys, do a similar analysis with any account that has spent with you this year. We call these Secondary accounts, and they too need to be considered during the budgeting process. With the right fit and relationship, you may be able to develop these into new Key accounts during the upcoming, and they can impact your revenues more positively.
  5. Finally, identify possible attrition. What accounts and revenues are at risk of not returning? This gives you some idea about what type of new business you will need to generate in the coming year to replace this attrition.

I know this can be a stressful process, but if you have a CRM and have engaged it properly during the year, you have a history of all of the activities, billing, and opportunities you need to make your forecast for yourself and your manager much more accurate and dependable. Both you and the company can count on it.

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Are you a manager and not sure of the most effective way to coax the very best out of your sales team? Here's a great read on the subject by Kitty Malone, former Radio Ink Sales Manager of the Year:

Tags: budget, media sales, Behind the Scenes in Media Sales, account management software, CRM, media sales analytics, Blog, account management, media sales process

Chris Crawford

Written by Chris Crawford

Sales Manager